Tony Blair Refuses to Accept US Medal

Sunday Mirror

First of all, I think it’s an insult to the soldiers in the field to give a politician the Medal of Honor (for UK Dopers, the Congressional Medal of Honor is equivalent to Britain’s Victoria Cross). Fortunately, Tony Blair seems to realize this. I also think it’s shamelessly cynical of the Bushies to present America’s highest medal to a foreign politician simply for the photo op during an election campaign. Once again, Tony Blair also seems to realize this and is refusing to allow himself to be used in such a manner.

It seems like relations between Downing and the White House are getting more strained lately. I think Blair feels like he got suckered into Iraq and that he isn’t going to be Bush’s poodle any more (at least I hope so).

I say good on Blair. Does anybody disagree?

We discussed this yesterday in GQ. It appears that the author of the article confused the Medal of Honor (which Blair is ineligible for) with the Congressional Gold Medal.

The article is incorrect. Blair was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, not the Medal of Honor which can only be awarded to people in the US Military.

Haj

First of all, it’s the “Medal of Honor.” There’s no “Congressional” in its name, though for some reason that myth persists.

Secondly, absent a corroborating source, I’d say it’s likely the Mirror had made an error here; there’s no precedent for foreign political leaders to get the Medal of Honor, and the Mirror’s statement that it is “the highest honour America can bestow upon a foreigner” suggests they have mixed it up with another medal.

While Blair might also be playing some politics here, I think he has a good point about accepting any type of medal while his troops are still dying in the field. And considering that even the quote from your cite clearly states that Bush has been trying to do this for over a year, I don’t think you’re on very solid ground in saying:

In the end, there’s really no reason not to take Blair at his word on this.

It also clearly states that the White House has been stepping up the pressure in recent weeks.

Huh? This must be some kind of joke or mistake. Damn. On preview, a bunch of people beat me to it.

Blair is doing what is right. The Medal of Honor is the highest combat decoration this country can give. Valor above and beyond the call of duty, usually given posthumously. It’s something when Blair apparently has more respect for it than our own leaders. To try and misuse it for a photo op and to gain some extra political points stinks. Just because Blair supported Bush in certain things, does not mean he has to be just another flunky lap dog, and he seems to know that. Good for Tony Blair.

SteveG1, it’s NOT the Medal of Honor. It CAN’T be. Stop spreading that, please.

Simulposts, gotta love em. If it’s some Gold Medal thing, that’s different, but I still say good for Tony Blair. Again, just because he sided with Bush on some things does not put him at Bush’s beck and call in all things.

Yes, but that doesn’t address the way **DtC ** represented it. Go back and read precisely what he said. Since the medal could have been presented a year ago, the implication that it is “simply” a campaign photo op is incorrect.

Not sure. IF Blair is really only trying to avoid being used in a U.S. election, yes, I suppose that is good. WIth my cynical hat on, though, I suspect he thinks it might not make him many friends back in Britain.

Thanks for the corrections on the medal (I saw multiple news stories calling it the MoH). I thought it sounded ridiculous to give him an MoH, but the broad outlines of my OP still stand. Good on Tony Blair for refusing to be used as a political show pony.

It looks bad for a politician to accept any sort of medal while troops are dying in the field.

John Mace, yes it says he’s been refusing for a year but it also says the WH is stepping up the pressure to get hin to accept it before the elction. So they do want to use the photo op for electioneering purposes.

I am glad to hear it’s not the MoH, though. That makes it less egregious than I first thought.

Dio, are you sure that Blair hasn’t already picked it up? According to this BBC piece, he took it home with him after his address to Congress:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcthree/news/7oclocknews/features/specialrelationship_111103.shtml

I guess I’m not seeing it. Doesn’t Congress authorize the Congressional Gold Medal? Wouldn’t that mean it wasn’t Bush who did so? Wasn’t the medal authorized over a year ago? Was it only Republicans who authorized it or did a few Democrats come on board too? If Congress authorized it and if it was authorized over a year ago its a non-story. Sure Bush is trying to capitalize on it NOW…he’d be an idiot not too. But the OP is totally incorrect in laying this all at Bush’s feet (even disreguarding the ridiculous MoH thing…how could anyone even begin to believe that this was possible??)…he’s only trying to capitalize on it. Thats what politicians DO after all.

As far as Tony Blair goes, he’s a politician too. My guess is he didn’t come here to get it (either now or a year ago) for his own political reasons, most of which are probably centered on how his own voters would look on it. To say ‘good on Blair’ is to congratulate a fish for being able to swim or a bear for shitting in the woods. Sheesh.

-XT

Yeah, Dubya has a hankerin’ for some scones, and figures Tony is just the bloke to bake 'em…

Oh, I don’t doubt that. Just as the Dems got Ron Reagan to speak at their convention not because he’s a world authority on stem cell research, but because it made a good photo op.

Without getting too bogged down in this, I was “simply” pointing out that your original use of “simply” is easily read as “only”, which is clearly contradticted by your own cite.

Bottom line, I’m basically in agreement with you on this. And even if Blair is completely playing politics for his part, BFD. He’s under no obligation to compromise his own political position in order to bolster Bush’s.

Actually, I don’t believe the gold medal was being awarded for Mr. Blair’s political beliefs or support of U.S. policy, but rather for his stellar perfomance in the International Head of State Judo Competition, which I understand the U.S. recently hosted on board the carrier U.S.S. Harry S. Truman.

Personally, I don’t believe he would have made it as far as he did had Ayatollah Ali Hoseini Khameni of Iran not dropped out.

He had to. They wanted him to fight a Jew.

Yeah but I think he could’ve kicked Shimon Peres’ ass.